chapter  9
18 Pages

Technology and accountability: autonomic computing and human agency


The ongoing infiltration of the social fabric by the technologies of computing and communication marks a distinctive stage in technology’s involvement in human affairs. Technology and modernity are undeniably coextensive (Heller 1999). The patterns of living characteristic of the modern age have considerably been shaped by industrial technology and its far-reaching social and institutional impact. However, contemporary technologies of computing and communication differ in the sense of massively intervening upon the primary process of reality perception thus redefining the cognitive and communicative profile of daily living (Ayres 2007, Gantz et al. 2008, Kallinikos 2009b, 2009c). An important consequence is the constitution of human experience by the standardized and often unobtrusive procedures of assembling reality that current technologies of computing and communication mediate (Borgmann 1999, Manovich 2008). The immersion of technologies in the perceptual and decision space of daily life inevitably raises a range of issues as regards the degree of control and insight people have over the circumstances of their living. Much of what I say in this text is a response, a commentary and challenge to the claims Mireille Hildebrandt makes in her own chapter. In challenging her in an affirmative spirit, I hope to be able to qualify some of the ideas she pus forward concerning the implications which the current technological developments may have upon the ideals of autonomous action and the accountability of individuals that constitute essential pillars of the modern democratic and legal order.